Cheers to Margarita Day

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This time of year, people are understandably suspicious about new holidays. But Feb. 22 does not require you to make reservations or buy flowers or even spend time with loved ones. No, weary Valentine Santa — National Margarita Day is all about you and a bottle of tequila.

Because not all margaritas were created equal, we checked in with the experts to get your party started.

Start with a nice tequila
This one is important for both Feb. 22 and the morning of Feb. 23.

“The secret to a really good margarita is a really great tequila — you want to be able to drink more than one,” says Tequila Avion President Jenna Fagnan. “Your tequila has to be 100 percent natural agave, not blended, which we call mixto. Even some of the high-end ones will add caramel coloring.”

If you’re past the point of reading labels, try Fagnan’s pucker test: “With really phenomenal tequila, you’ll get less of a burn, so you don’t get a tequila face.”

But not too nice
David Becker knows his way around a salted rim. After a stint at a California tequila bar, he’s now the general manager of Philly’s Verdad restaurant, which hosts a “Tequila University.” He reaches for Don Julio 1942 when off the clock, but don’t make him put it in a shaker. “We will not allow you to add that to a drink,” he jokes (at least we think). “Someone wanted a frozen strawberry margarita with it — we tried to convince him not to, but that’s what he wanted.”

Eat something other than nachos
Tequila has a rep as a party girl, but she’s just at home with a thought-out meal as wine. “We’re trying to dispel some of the myths about tequila,” says Becker. “It’s a legitimate spirit, not just something that you take shots of with your friends. It’s something you can pair with food.”

If you must pre-mix …

   
Pre-made mixes are full of calories, sugar and hangovers. But if someone shows up with a bottle, you can at least make it taste better. Fagnan recommends adding fresh lime juice and mixing up the rims — chipotle sugar, anyone?


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